09/22/2010 1:21PM

Saint Isabelle has serious shot to wire


POMONA, Calif. – Front-runner Saint Isabelle stretches from one turn to three turns Friday on the five-eighth-mile dirt track at Fairplex Park, where she will be favored to lead gate to wire in the $50,000 Palomares Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

The 1 1/16-mile race drew a modest field of six. Saint Isabelle’s rivals include Fashion Trend, Sweet Hanni, Not Here, Tapit So Lightly, and the maiden Tiz Smoke Tiz Fire.

Mike Puype trains Saint Isabelle, who led throughout in a first-level allowance sprint in her most recent start at Del Mar. If Saint Isabelle, a daughter of Saint Liam, reproduces that Aug. 21 effort while racing for the first time on dirt, she figures to be long gone under jockey David Flores.

Saint Isabelle has won 2 of 6 starts for owners Paul Chacon and Little Red Feather Racing Stable. She is a half-sister to Grade 3 winner Texas Fever and stakes winner Bold Angel. Both won stakes the first time they ran long on a main track. Texas Fever won the 2007 Kentucky Cup Juvenile. Bold Angel won a two-turn stakes at Sam Houston.

Although expected to set the pace, Saint Isabelle faces an early challenge from Sweet Hanni, a good sprint claimer who has won three of eight. Sweet Hanni set the pace to near the eighth pole last out in a turf stake at Del Mar, ultimately tiring to fifth.

The early fractions set by Sweet Hanni were slower than those set by Saint Isabelle, but Sweet Hanni and jockey Edwin Maldonado are likely to keep the pressure on. Through Sunday at the Los Angeles County Fair, there had been only one winning favorite in 10 races at 1 1/16 miles.

Fashion Trend was no match for Saint Isabelle when they met in a maiden sprint July 4. Fashion Trend, however, subsequently won a two-turn maiden race, and her established ability over a distance of ground could tilt the advantage her way. Trained by Craig Dollase, Fashion Trend will be ridden by Fairplex leader Martin Pedroza.

Tapit So Lightly ships in from Golden Gate, where she finished a creditable third last out in an allowance route against older fillies and mares. Owned and trained by Wendell McDaniel, Tapit So Lightly will roll late under Christian Santiago-Reyes.

Not Here won a Del Mar maiden race last time, while Tiz Smoke Tiz Fire finished second in a maiden race in her last start.